Completed An Education In Jungle Life V

Taz and Randal take to the jungle in search of snakes.

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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An Education In Jungle Life V

Postby Tazrae on November 22nd, 2020, 4:00 am

Timestamp: 46th of Fall, 520 A.V.

Continued From: An Education In Jungle Life IV


The serpent was a beautiful black snake whose scales shimmered iridescently in the sunlight where the fragmented beams struck them through the dense foliage it was filtered by. Taz marveled at how Randal walked quietly up to it and reached out to touch the beast. It was coiled up in heavy loops hanging over a branch that seemed to support its weight without difficulty. Randal ran his hand up the snake's body and the creature only lifted its head and looked curiously at him. The man then got a good grip on the beast and hefted the whole thing up in his arms. The snake squirmed slightly then settled in his arms, tongue flicking in and out mildly. “Remember how to tell their sexes?” He asked Tazrae.

She nodded, stepping closer, and bravely reached out and captured its tail. She inverted the tail gently in the direction the coiled snake most easily could tolerate the movement and examined the vent scales and counted down to the tips. “Female?” She asked, bending the tail so Randal could get a look. He nodded his agreement. “She’s thick in the middle too… right above the vent. Full of eggs, I’d imagine.” He said thoughtfully. “If it was from a meal, she’d be thicker further up in her gastrointestinal tract,” Randal said, still holding the coiled creature but gesturing with his chin at her middle which wasn’t bulging.

“What is she?” Tazrae asked, looking curious and then gently trailing a finger up the scales. The snake was warm and smooth over her scales… truly beautiful. The young Innkeeper should have been afraid, but she wasn’t. There really wasn’t anything threatening about the snake. And taking a cue from Randal’s behavior, she moved deliberately, slowly, and didn’t try to startle it.

“It’s a Mussurana. I know a little about them… one of the rangers talked about them, Indigo… who’s part Dhani and part Myrian. She’s enough of a snake herself to understand such creatures and teach others about them.” He said thoughtfully. “Can you even guess what's special about this snake?” He asked, glancing at Tazrae.


“She’s remarkably docile… other than that, no. She has features that are sort of in-between what you taught me about venomous and non-venomous snakes. I can’t tell if she’s poisonous or not.” Taz added, looking thoughtful. “But she doesn’t have the look of a constrictor at all. Her head is too subtle, gentle… not at all distinguishable like say a reticulated python or an eyelash viper. Taz added, hoping she didn’t sound indecisive about the snake, even though all its features were indecisive in regard to what Randal had taught her about snakes.

“Interesting observations. She’s mildly poisonous, but her entire family … the snakes related to her and herself… are rear-fanged snakes. That means her fangs are in the back of her mouth and if she was to bite you, they wouldn’t sink into your flesh. And if they did, they wouldn’t even make you sick. Her venom is specialized… she’s a snake eater.” He said with a grin.

Tazrae’s eyes went wide. “What?! She eats snakes?”

“Indeed. Indigo says her entire family eats poisonous snakes – any kind really – but that she is immune to the venom of pit vipers like the eyelash viper that bit you. She can’t be harmed by any of the nasty snakes you fear in and around the settlement. In fact, she hunts them and eats them.” Randal said, looking thoughtful.

“I’ve often thought that if someone had a nurturing bone in their body and the facility to do it… raising and breeding these snakes in Syka and then letting them roam free might really put a dent in our snake population locally from the babies on up and protect the city. They’d have to be the fussy type, since keeping snakes is not easy. But if we could gather enough of breeding age and teach the people of Syka to not kill them because of what they are… we could actually protect our city.” Randal said, studying Tazrae.
Last edited by Tazrae on November 22nd, 2020, 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tazrae
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An Education In Jungle Life V

Postby Tazrae on November 22nd, 2020, 4:01 am

“I’ll help you build a reptile shed to keep them in… and now that you have Bree… she’s good at catching frogs, lizards, snakes, almost anything that squiggles and squirms. You would have an easy time feeding the snakes. In the wild… a clutch of her eggs would probably have less than a ten percent hatch rate. Everything eats them and they die more than they hatch. The survival rates among the babies are even worse. But you could change that and set these creatures loose in and around Syka. It could make a big difference.” He suggested, studying her to see if she liked the idea.

Bree did. The lizard snorted and tossed her head much like a horse then beamed a toothy smile at Randal. “That would give me something to do! I hunt easily for myself. I’d love to hunt for snakes that help the people. I could even fish for them. Do snakes eat fish?” Did she ask? The jungle Ixam was in the sea as much as she was in the water. And she seemed excited about the idea.

“I don’t know much about keeping snakes, but if someone could teach me… and they were all as pretty as this one… I would definitely consider doing it. Especially if it makes the colony safer. But I do have questions.” She said looking thoughtful. “And rather than ask them one after another… can you just tell me what you know about her kind?” Tazrae said, suddenly finding that Randal was handing the snake to her. He gently gave her instructions as he did so.

“Always handle them gently. Pick her up supporting her loosely but securely with your hands and arms. Don’t tempt fate and peer closely at her or lift her up to the level of your head or neck. It might translate to her as aggressive or that you are considering eating her. She can strike, though her kind tends not to, so make sure you control the distance between her head and her coils. When they back away from you and make those S curves in their bodies, remember those curves can straighten out and sometimes double their length if they go to strike. Watch for that behavior… it’s aggressive. Though in her kind I’ve only seen it when they’ve laid eggs and are defending those eggs. They can also be aggressive when they can’t see well because they are shedding over their eyes. Those sheds can block scent and sight, which makes them cranky as well.” He added, then went on as Tazrae balanced the heavy snake in her arms and continued to stroke her lovely scales.

“When snakes are young, they tend to be active and twitchy. All you need to do is handle them frequently and they will calm down. Sometimes they get musky… it’s a defensive smell.. when they are nervous and handled. Just again handle them frequently and that will stop. You can wash off the scent with soap and water. Make sure your hands are clean handling them. You don’t want to say have been cutting up chicken and go to handle your snakes with the scent of bloody chicken on your hands. They might mistake fingers for a meal.” He added, laughing lightly.

Tazrae smiled. “No worries there. I always wash up before and after making meals, many times during, and about the only thing I routinely smell like is Bree… and hopefully, she doesn’t smell like food to a snake.” The Innkeeper commented.

Randal nodded. “I know. You keep a clean kitchen. You’d keep a clean reptile house too. If we take her and capture a few more of her kind, we can start a program for Syka.” Randal said thoughtfully. “I’d also have Indigo come by and give some advice as well.” Randal mused out loud, planning.
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An Education In Jungle Life V

Postby Tazrae on November 22nd, 2020, 4:03 am

“What would a reptile house look like? Just a shed?” She asked, looking thoughtfully at the Founder who was the main carpenter for the Settlement. “I don’t even know what you would keep snakes in… cages?” She asked uncertain, musing, and shaking her head. That didn’t sound right.

“No, I wouldn’t. I’d keep them in cabinets with glass fronts where the tops have air circulation via small holes in the wood. It would be like stepping into an elaborate pantry that had great circulation. But instead of shelves, there would be cabinets with glass-fronted doors on all three sides and places for the snakes to dwell in three or four layers in front and on either side of you. I know they don’t need much space… these snakes aren’t arboreal or active crawlers. They tend to hang out and bask when not hunting... and don’t need fancy enclosures. But you’d need a place to house the babies before they are old enough to release. You could line the cabinets with coconut shell fibers that will stay damp and hold water to make sure there’s humidity high enough to mimic the jungle where the Mussurana thrive. I’ve seen a few in the settlement itself, but not as many as I would like.” He added, looking thoughtful. “And you’d need multiple enclosures because if you say had a clutch of babies, you feed them one at a time and put them in a new enclosure after they’ve eaten so you can keep track of who you have fed and who you haven’t.” He said, looking thoughtful.

“Do they eat chicken? I keep having an excess of male chicks from my chickens. I’ve been keeping them all together to raise as meat birds, but baby snakes could eat chicks just as easily, especially at the rate my chickens produce.” She added, thinking quickly. The hens, Tazrae guarded, but the young roosters were always fighting even before they got big enough to eat. It would be nice to cull a few and have an outlet for that. It sounded cruel, but her chickens produced great eggs and lots of chicks. They would make great snake food for sure. And it was not a sacrifice when one considered it was for improving the living quality of Syka.

“How big do these guys get, Randal?” Tazrae asked, still thinking it over.

“I’ve seen them all different sizes, but they grow to be about seven feet long. This one is fully mature, but I think she’ll still grow a bit… maybe a foot, maybe a bit more.” Tazrae nodded. She judged the snake in her arms to be about six feet long as it was. And Randal had a sharp eye for things like this.

“At what age do they start laying eggs?” She asked, uncertain.

“Well, I think around the size of this one… the six-foot mark or more. I think they have issues with egg binding when they are bred too small or too young. They have problems laying their eggs much like chickens can. I know they breed in the fall. The adults stop looking for food and start looking for each other. When the nights around here start getting cooler… around seventy degrees, the males start frantically searching for females. I know if they are kept in cages, they will rub their noses raw searching around. But once you put them in pairs, they will start breeding immediately. Males can get aggressive then and bite at the females… the females grow much larger I think." He started out by saying.

Tazrae nodded her understanding.

Then Randal continued. " Don’t leave them together… just let them come together and once they lose interest in each other, I separate. You can tell your mating was successful because the female will get very fat and stop being active… much like the one you have in your arms. She’s probably been recently bred. A season or so later… she’ll lay a clutch of eggs. You’ll know it's soon because she’ll shed just before she lays. Then you need to put a nest box in where you house her so she has a place to lay her eggs. I’d fill the box with damp moss and wet sand. Once the legs, you take the nest box out… leave her on her own, and hatch the eggs out about a hundred days later keeping them warm.” He ran down the list he knew about keeping females and breeding them.
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Tazrae
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Posts: 426
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An Education In Jungle Life V

Postby Tazrae on November 22nd, 2020, 4:05 am

Tazrae nodded. “How do I keep the eggs warm. Chickens sit on their eggs... but snake eggs? Can’t you let the mother just sit on them?” She asked, curious.

“Snakes can’t keep their own body temperature regulated like chickens can. Nor can they warm their eggs. You need to keep your eggs at about seventy-five degrees and with a damp but not wet substrate. I know these sorts of eggs will swell and burst if they are too wet, and will get mold as well. You can’t move them after they are laid either… by move I mean turned. They need to be kept in the same location they are laid in or the embryo inside won’t develop. Too hot and the snakes in the eggs get all kinds of deformities or kinks in their spines. Too cold, and the embryos won’t develop either.” He said, looking thoughtful.

“I won’t get it right the first time… not all of it. The temperature of the egg chamber will be the hardest of all. There might be an induction heat set up we can do like were we circulate warm water around the chamber that heats over a fire or something… but we’d have to watch the fire closely. Maybe one of the Reimancers will have some ideas. Magic is super helpful sometimes.” Taz added, then gestured down at the snake in her arms.

“She won’t be enough either. We’ll need more pregnant females at first. I don’t have to keep all of them, but if we want to get the colony saturated with these kinds of snakes, it's going to take at least a year and a lot of persistence. I’ll need multiple clutches and males to rebred these captured females.” Tazrae said softly, looking thoughtful.

Randal was already pulling out a soft cotton sack from his pack. He helped Tazrae slip the female Mussurana into the sack and they knotted the top shut. She was then carefully tied to Bree’s saddle.
“We don’t want to stress her,” Randal said, looking thoughtful. “She could lose this clutch of eggs if she gets too upset.” He said, patting Bree’s side gently as if to remind the Jungle Ixam to go easy on her precious cargo.

“How can you tell if a snake is stressed?” Tazrae asked, thinking the snake they had in the sack had no signs of being upset that she could see.

Randal gave it some thought, then listed what he knew. “They hiss, strike, mock strike, try to slither away, bite, show signs of being overly alert. They retract their head or tail. They lock their eyes on you.. catching your gaze. They hide their head… coil or grasp things tightly with their bodies… play dead… move less than gracefully like jerky or jittery motion. They can also loop up and push away what's irritating them with their loops.” He said thoughtfully, nodding to himself.

Taz made mental notes. She looked curious. “And happy snakes do…?” She trailed off, curious.

“They sleep, aren’t tense, have normal breathing, normal alertness, look curious, not anxious. They smell the air with their tongues in a steady non-adjugated way. They move calmly, are unhurried, and gently grasp their perches or handlers who are holding them. You can tell just by looking at them if you get some time around them.” He added, turning to study Tazrae.
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
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An Education In Jungle Life V

Postby Tazrae on November 22nd, 2020, 4:08 am

“Sounds pretty normal. I think I can remember all of that. Can we keep her safe while we are making the reptile shed? I can’t think of an easy place to keep her until we get something built.” She added, a bit worried about what she’d do with the snake right away until they got the shed built.

“No, no… don’t worry about that. I’ll build something at your place for her when I drop you off… something temporary that will keep her safe and contained.” He added, making Tazrae smile.

“You want to do this yourself, don’t you?” She asked, sensing it in him.

Randal nodded. “I do. But I couldn’t devote the time. I’m too busy building houses and taking people out on walks like this… teaching… that kind of thing. But you having a shed will be my next favorite thing. I think I will be over a lot checking on the snakes… maybe helping with feeding and cleaning. It will be a joy to me to have them close yet not be responsible. I know my own schedule… and it's busy, Tazrae. It's not something I can do.” He said thoughtfully.

“It’d be something I’d really like. Bree will help me too.” She added as the Ixam nudged her as if to remind her she was there.

“Shall we look around? There might be more snakes around. If she was recently bred, she can’t be the only one around here.” Tazrae said thoughtfully. She scanned the area, having a sense of what they are looking for now. The Innkeeper suddenly had an idea in glancing around and knowing it would be impossible for them to find more snakes just by wandering around.

“Bree… your sense of … taste is excellent. Can you find more of the Mussuranas?” Taz asked the Ixam, who flicked her tongue in response and shrugged. It was a very human gesture for a four-legged creature. Taz almost smiled.

Randal nodded encouragingly.

“I can try…” The Lizard said, starting out, tongue flicking, as she moved away and tried to stay downwind so the scent of the bagged snake already attached to her saddle didn’t get in the way of her efforts of finding more. She started off suddenly, not like Creature would who have scented something interesting, but rather like someone who scented nothing and wanted to move on. Taz joined Randal and they both followed the Ixam, each wielding a machete to clear their paths more carefully.

Continued In: An Education In Jungle Life VI



Word Count: 3030
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
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Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)

An Education In Jungle Life V

Postby Tazrae on May 6th, 2021, 2:56 am

Tazrae -

Observation +3, Animal Husbandry +5, Socialization +3, Interrogation +5, Planning +4, Logic +1

Animal Husbandry: Mussurana Appearance & Mannerism, Mussurana: Snake Eaters, Animal Husbandry: Raising Snakes To Increase Local Populations/Egg Viability, Mussurana: Rear-Fanged Snake/Mildly Poisonous, Snakes: Less Than 10% Survivability Of Eggs Laid, Animal Husbandry: How To Pick Up/Hold A Snake, Snakes: Control Distance Between Head And Coils When Handling, Snakes: Young Are Squirmy/Twitchy – Handle Them To Calm Them Down, Snakes: Handle With Clean Hands Always, Animal Husbandry: How To House Snakes Properly, Mussurana: Breeding Times/Temperatures, Mussurana: Breeding Habits, Mussurana: Egg Laying Habits, Mussurana: 100 Days From Laying To Hatching On Eggs, Animal Husbandry: Signs Of Stress In Snakes, Animal Husbandry: Signs Of Content/Happy Snakes
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User avatar
Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 426
Words: 500443
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)


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